The Golden State Warriors ran off with an easier-than-expected win at Memphis on Friday night.
Now comes the hard part: Doing it again 24 hours later.
The Warriors and the host Grizzlies will complete an NBA-style doubleheader on Saturday night when they meet in the rematch of a 116-103 Golden State win on Friday.
The victory was the Warriors’ fifth in their past nine visits to Memphis, with each of the previous wins immediately followed by a loss the next time Golden State came to Tennessee.
The Warriors have swept just one of their previous five such two-game series, that coming at home against Minnesota. They split both of their previous two sets on the road, at Dallas and San Antonio.
Memphis, meanwhile, was swept at home by the Los Angeles Lakers in a two-game series. Their only other set played at home resulted in a split with the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Warriors gained the upper hand in the series despite the absence of Stephen Curry, who sustained a bruised tailbone Wednesday at Houston. According to Golden State coach Steve Kerr, Curry is “very doubtful” to return for the rematch.
“It would be irresponsible of us to play him at this point. He’s still in pain,” Kerr said after the Friday win. “It’s not even a question of temptation to put him out there. It’s just we’re going to do what’s right medically. When he’s ready, he’s ready.”
Kerr and the Warriors’ medical staff have a decision to make on Kelly Oubre Jr. as well. The forward played through a sore foot — sustained when he was kicked in Houston — but managed just four points Friday. He is another candidate to be given Saturday off.
Golden State also is without key big men James Wiseman and Eric Paschall, both of whom entered COVID-19 protocols on Thursday and are out for at least a week.
Kevon Looney came up big as the Warriors’ lone legitimate center on Friday, recording a season-high-tying 11 points on one end and holding high-scoring Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas to 10 points at the other.
Jordan Poole and Damion Lee tag-teamed in Curry’s absence for impressive point totals, Poole pouring in 25 in his first start of the season and Lee contributing a season-high 21 off the bench. They combined to shoot a Curry-like 7-for-14 from 3-point range.
The Grizzlies took their fourth in defeat in five games, but the game’s nature could prove beneficial in their attempt to gain a split. Down by 25 points in the third quarter, Memphis emptied the bench early, resulting in only Ja Morant (30) playing more than 25 minutes.
Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins needed very little time to determine his team’s chief shortcoming on Friday, noting that it’s a correctable error.
“We didn’t have the fight tonight,” he said simply. “We got to have it (Saturday).”
Memphis was outscored 45-24 on 3-pointers and hurt itself with 21 turnovers. The Grizzlies had entered the game averaging just 13.5 giveaways per game, the ninth-best figure in the league.
The Warriors took advantage of Memphis’ mistakes to outscore the hosts 30-14 on points off turnovers.
–Field Level Media